Will hospitality gain from 2012?

23 November 2006
Will hospitality gain from 2012?

The Government has not been slow to call on operators to begin preparing for the 2012 Olympics, predicting the hospitality and tourism sectors will reap between 50% and 75% of the potential £1.4b-£2b benefit of the Games.

Labour minister Shaun Woodward - in one of his infrequent outings under his tourism brief - told World Travel Market that 2012 was as "an enormous opportunity and an enormous challenge to refresh a world-leading brand - the UK".

And Culture Minister Tessa Jowell has proclaimed that the 2012 Olympics represent a "unique opportunity to take our tourism industry to the next level".

But, as industry leaders have pointed out in their submissions to the 2012 legacy consultation (page 6), the potential benefits of hosting the Games were "neither inevitable nor automatic".

The overriding message was clear - UK hospitality and the wider economy will only benefit if the Government backs up the rhetoric with action - specifically, guarantees on funding.

Last week it emerged that the overall cost of hosting the Games will be at least £5b, so surely it is reasonable for VisitBritain to be given a specific £20m annual budget for marketing the UK ahead of the Olympics?

To put this into perspective, Tourism Australia spent £72m on the "Where the Bloody Hell are You?" campaign alone. But, as it stands, no additional funding is forthcoming. In fact, the Chancellor is planning to cut VisitBritain's budget - which, in real terms, has been frozen since Labour came to power - in next year's spending review.

Winning the right to host the Olympics was a wonderful achievement. It would be a crying shame if a lack of funding meant the UK economy didn't reap the benefits.

Daniel Thomas, News Editor, Caterer and Hotelkeeper

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